Mike Silverman (a.k.a. That 1 Guy) is a classically trained bassist. From the age of 15, this gifted musician seemed destined for a musical career his parents could be proud of: playing bass in promising ensembles, winning a Dave Brubeck Jazz Scholarship competition, studying classical upright at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music and jazz bass at Los Medanos College. But at some point on the path to respectable mainstream success, something went fantastically wrong.
In 2003, Silverman wrote, recorded, produced and mastered the debut album from his demented alter ego That 1 Guy — a magnificently insane one-man show that has been making waves across America since the late '90s. He made the record with an unwieldy homemade instrument called The Magic Pipe, wrote songs called "It's Raining Meat" and "Weasel Potpie," and titled the disc Songs In The Key Of Beotch. Whatever drove the mild-mannered Silverman to do this is debatable, but one thing is for sure: fans of the musically bizarre will be forever grateful.
That 1 Guy began quickly and unexpectedly, after Silverman finished a gig with his beloved Bay Area group The Fabulous Hedgehogs. After the club owner paid the 5-piece band a meager $50, Silverman joked that the next time around he'd play the show alone. The owner took him up on the offer, and right then and there, That 1 Guy was born. In a fit of experimentation, Silverman removed all his bass strings except for one and picked up a drum machine as accompaniment. That 1 Guy's first show, at Dr. Bombay's in San Francisco's Mission District, was a learning experience. The club had no stage, so Silverman performed standing on the bar, his head touching the ceiling, his microphone plugged into the jukebox. "It was the worst gig ever, yet somehow my greatest musical accomplishment up to that point," Silverman reminisces.
Since that fateful night, Silverman has worked hard on perfecting his one-man show and building the beautiful monstrosity that is The Magic Pipe. Seven feet of galvanized steel and hardware store trinkets, the metallic, one-stringed instrument is brought to life by an array of electronic gadgets. Silverman claims the pipe, "not only has a limitless harmonic and sonic range, but limitless rhythmic possibilities as well."
When That 1 Guy performs live, his imagination is what truly seems limitless. On top of his infectious, innovative style, the artist throws more avant-garde treats into the mix, like impassioned Whodini covers and electrified cowboy boots. His indisputably original show has attracted the attention of a wide range of artists, and as a result, Silverman has shared the stage with the likes of Ani DiFranco, Soul Coughing, Saul Williams, Bob Weir and Ratdog, Yo La Tengo, Fabolous, Drums & Tuba, Naughty By Nature and countless others.
On September 7, 2004, Righteous Babe Records gave Songs In The Key Of Beotch a proper release (it had already sold 10,000 copies via shows and that1guy.com). The future seems improbably bright for a man that sings about baked weasels and slaughtered sheep, all while slapping a huge hunk of metal. You might say it's a pipe dream come true.